Tallgrass Prairie Preserve celebrates first bison birth of year

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

A Texas family had a once-in-a-lifetime experience recently at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.

George Perdue, his daughter and four grandchildren were witnesses for the arrival of the Preserve’s first baby bison of 2016 on Easter Sunday, March 27. They saw it standing alongside its mother shortly after birth.

Perdue, a member of The Nature Conservancy for 45 years, was making his first visit to Tallgrass.

“On our way out of the Preserve, we saw this newborn and mother,” Perdue said. “Birth was just minutes before we got there.

“It was the highlight of a very nice trip,” he added.

Coincidentally, last year’s first bouncing baby bison at Tallgrass also was seen on Easter Sunday. About 560 calves were born at the Preserve in 2015 and the local staff expects another 600-700 births this year. That means other spring visitors might also get to see one of the precious bundles of joy, along with the 2,100 adult bison that roam freely there.

Young bison are fun to watch. They can be rather playful, so visitors may see calves frolicking, chasing, battling, butting, kicking and racing. Such activity aids muscle development and coordination important later in life.

For the public’s safety, when visiting the bison, park officials ask guests to observe the following rules:

— Rule #1: Stay in your car!

— Rule #2: Stay in your car!

— Rule #3: Stay in your car!

Bison are fast — they can go from 0 to 35 mph faster than one can say oops! If they’re blocking the road, be patient. Although they may be big and fuzzy, bison are wild animals — they’re not cuddly.

The preserve is open daily from dawn to dusk with no charge for admittance and can be accessed via county roads. There are free ranging bison herds, scenic turnouts, hiking trails, picnic tables, breezeway information and public restrooms at the Historic Bunkhouse. The gift shop/visitor center is open from March through mid-December from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is operated by docents, and is typically open every day.